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How To Get Permanent Markers Off Metal?

how to get permanent marker off metal

Permanent ink markers are not so permanent, especially if you use them on non-porous surfaces like metal. There are several ways how to get permanent markers off metal and they are not that difficult at all.

If you just bought a couple of furniture made of metal from a flea market or a secondhand store, and there is clear permanent marker writing on them, here are some of the best ways you can fix it. You might even have all the materials you need right at home.

Step-by-Step Guide

Using A Dry-erase Marker

Who would have thought that writing over a permanent marker using another marker would work? However, the ink in dry-erase markers contains a nonpolar type solvent. This is why dry-erase marker marks are soft and easy to wipe off non-porous surfaces.

This same solvent can also work on permanent markers, and quite well I might add.

What to Prepare:

  • A dry-erase marker
  • Damp rag or paper towels

Detailed Steps:

Step 1 – Clean the surface as much as you can

Take a damp rag or a paper towel and wipe as much dirt and grime off the surface. Remove the excess oil and dirt to make it easier to remove the marks later.

Step 2 – Apply a liberal amount of dry-erase marker

Make sure that your dry-erase marker contains plenty of ink. Write over the permanent marker ink using the dry-erase marker. Ensure that you cover all the visible marks.

Step 3 – Wipe away the dry-erase ink

After covering the permanent ink marker with the dry-erase ink, you can immediately erase the mark using a dry rag or a paper towel. If all goes well, there won’t be a mark left after you wipe away the dry-erase ink.

If there are still some marks left, you can apply more dry-erase ink over the stain and wipe it away.

Using Rubbing Alcohol

You may have some rubbing alcohol in your home right now mainly because of the health pandemic that is going around now. You can use simple rubbing alcohol, especially if you are using something a bit strong, like 90% concentration.

What to Prepare:

  • Rubbing alcohol, ideally 90% isopropyl solution
  • Clean rags

Detailed Steps:

Step 1 – Put some alcohol on a clean cloth

Put a good amount of alcohol on a clean cloth. There should be enough to properly soak through the fabric.

Step 2 – Place the alcohol-soaked rag on the stain

Place the rag on top of the stain. Do not wipe the stain off yet. Let the rag sit for around 10 seconds to give the alcohol enough time to soften the permanent marker ink.

Step 3 – Scrub the ink stain until gone

Applying a good amount of pressure, proceed to scrub the ink stain until it is gone. You might need to put more alcohol on the stain if there is still a good amount of ink remaining on the surface.

Using Toothpaste and Baking Soda

how to get sharpie off metal

For tough stains, you can go with a more abrasive method. This technique makes use of white toothpaste, not the gel type. The reason is that the white toothpaste already comes with micro-abrasives that will help scrub off the ink stain.

If you are wondering how to get permanent markers off stainless steel, this method is ideal because it will also polish and shine the surface. If you want to make the entire piece shinier, you can prepare more of this polishing paste to suit your needs.

What to Prepare:

  • White toothpaste
  • Baking soda
  • Small cup
  • A mixing stick (a popsicle stick will do)
  • Clean damp rag
  • Paper towel

Detailed Steps:

Step 1 – Mix the toothpaste and baking soda

In a small container, mix equal parts of baking soda and white toothpaste. Use the mixing stick to thoroughly combine the ingredients until it is a uniform paste.

For a small area, you can mix around 2 grams of toothpaste and baking soda. To put it in perspective, that is roughly the same amount of toothpaste that you would usually use to brush your teeth.

Step 2 – Put a bit of the polishing paste on the damp rag

Grab the damp rag and dip it into the toothpaste and baking soda paste. Proceed to apply the paste all over the stain. Use a bit of pressure and small circular motions to scrub at the permanent ink stain. Continue until all the permanent marker stains are gone.

After removing all the permanent marker stain, remove the remaining polishing paste using a paper towel.

You may put more of the polishing paste directly on the stain if it is still visible. If you want, you can use this paste to polish the rest of the stainless-steel piece. Just apply it directly to the surface and use another damp rag to scrub each section until the surface turns cloudy. After that, use a soft rag to polish the surface to give it a nice shine.

Using WD-40

WD-40 is not just great at removing rust and making stuck metal joints work smoothly again. This wonderful product also contains low-viscosity mineral spirit solvents, which means it can lift and remove ink stains on non-porous surfaces easily.

After I learned how to get sharpie off metal using this technique, I have been using WD-40 extensively for restoring classic die-cast metal toy cars, especially the cars that were given new “paint jobs” by their previous owners.

What to Prepare:

  • A can of WD-40
  • Clean rags

Detailed Steps:

Step 1 – Spray WD-40 directly on the stain

Spray a liberal amount of WD-40 on the permanent ink marker stain. Allow it to sit for at least 30 seconds. This will give the solvents and oils of the WD-40 enough time to soak into the ink and soften it.

Step 2 – Scrub the ink stain

After a while, you will start seeing the ink stain smear and float on top of the WD-40. Help it along by scrubbing the surface with a clean rag. Use small circular motions to scrub out the stain and remove it completely.

Step 3 – Wipe the surface clean

After removing the ink stain, use a paper towel to remove excess WD-40 that might remain on the surface of the metal. If there is still a bit of the ink left, repeat the process as many times as needed.

Helpful Tips

  • If you will be using acetone (CH3COCH3) to clean permanent ink marker stains, remember that you do not need to let it sit on the surface – This solvent acts almost immediately so you only need to wipe it on to get rid of stains
  • You can also use Magic Eraser but this is not ideal for high-gloss surfaces – The reason is that it leaves micro-scratches on the surface


Now that you know how to get permanent markers off metal, you can start hoarding as many knick-knacks from flea markets as you want. You can now easily erase the pesky permanent marker price tags on everything that you buy and make them look brand-spanking new.

Don’t worry about damaging the finish of the metal. There is a guarantee that the techniques mentioned above will not cause any harm to the surfaces.